“Cronan”

“Cronan” at the Gaslight Theatre.

“Buy tickets now and see it later!”

That line will make sense to those fortunate enough to have already seen the Gaslight Theatre’s latest production, “Cronan The Barbarian,” kick-started Sept. 4 and running through Nov. 9.

For those who haven’t yet, expect what you’ve come to expect of the Gaslight Theatre: A slew of hilarious one-liners mingled into a well-structured script that incorporates a family friendly theme, song and dance, and an acting crew that has mastered the craft of melodramatic and improv comedy.

While my timeslot was missing the always popular and spunky Joe Cooper from the lineup, there was enough depth and talent in the acting crew to fill the void, and in “Cronan” that is particularly true of lead Todd Thompson (Cronan), whose high-energy, and mere stage presence demands attention, and Mike Yarema (Pirate Captain, Bragdar the Horrendous, Equinox the Centaur, several soldiers), who somehow has the state of mind and versatility to flawlessly transition between numerous roles that give him nearly no time for a breather.

Loosely following the 1982 storyline of director John Millus’ “Conan the Barbarian,” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gaslight’s latest gem opens with the introduction of General Ataxia (Armen Dirtadian) heading up a pirate ship full of slaves he and his crew have collected along their journey – slaves who are told they will be land laborers until their death.

Among them is Cronan, who unlike his fellow captives, won’t go down so easily. He makes his mission known early and often – he will free the slaves and restore order to his land no matter the cost.

It’s a tough task, and one that Cronan – as big and burly as he is – will eventually need the aid of the tough Zeena Warrior Princess (Katherine Byrnes), and the beautiful Princess Persephone (Janee Page) to pull off.

Impeding their path toward success are the corrupt, power-hungry group of Ataxia and his sidekicks Vultura (Heather Stricker), Reptilius (David Orley), as well as a tag-along hoard of soldiers.

Thompson does well in his role to portray the highs and lows of his long journey toward freedom, in which he must endure physical and mental warfare to fulfill what he knows to be his destiny.

As is the norm, this show is full of laugh out loud moments; Yarema, as Equinox the Centaur, shaking his horse rump to “Macho Man.” Dirtadian using a bald audience member’s head as a turntable. All your favorite Schwarzenegger references. A ridiculous horse and chariot race scene.

And, sure, maybe it doesn’t sound quite so funny when I put it in writing. But then again, when have words – other than those in the show’s scripts – ever been able to bring justice to the Gaslight Theatre?

Your best bet is to “put that cookie down!” and drive to 7010 E. Broadway Blvd. to check it out for yourself.

Alright, I’ll leave the jokes to Gaslight.

That’s all for this review, but “I’ll be back” for The Gaslight Theatre’s holiday show, “The Secret Santa” beginning Nov. 14 and running through Jan. 4.  

Visit www.thegaslighttheatre.com for more information.

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